Bayer builds world's largest production plant for carbon nanotubes
31 January 2009
Bayer MaterialScience has begun work on the construction of a new
facility for the production of carbon nanotubes(CNTs) in Chempark
Leverkusen, Germany. The new plant will have a capacity of 200
tons/year, making it the largest of its kind in the world.
The company is to invest around €22
million in the planning, development and construction of the plant,
which will create 20 new jobs. "We are investing in a key technology of
the future that will open up a broad range of new applications for us.
We intend to utilize this opportunity to the full. At the same time, the
construction of the new CNT facility is a declaration of faith in
Leverkusen and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia as an industrial
location," said Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, the member of the Bayer AG Board
of Management responsible for innovation, technology and the
environment, at a press conference to mark the start of construction.
Current forecasts predict that the global market for carbon nanotubes
will grow by 25% a year. In ten years, annual sales of these products
are expected to reach US$2 billion.
Bayer MaterialScience is one of the few companies that can produce
carbon nanotubes of consistently high quality on an industrial scale. A
pilot plant with an annual capacity of 60 tons has been in operation in
Laufenburg in southern Germany since 2007.
Production involves a catalytic process in which the carbon nanotubes
are obtained from a carbon-containing gas at elevated temperature in a
reactor. "Bayer is investing in this, the world's largest CNT production
plant, because we are convinced of the technological and economic
efficiency of the process," said Plischke.
With the company's know-how, Bayer can now take a product from the
research laboratory and smooth its progress into a broad spectrum of
applications relevant to society, such as energy, the environment,
mobility, safety and construction.
Baytubes — the brand name for Bayer's carbon nanotubes — are already
being used to produce tough, extremely strong, lightweight materials.
This means, for example, that rotor blades for wind turbines are more
energy-efficient, that transport containers weigh less and that sports
equipment can be made more robust.
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